New Fracking Rules on Air
April 19, 2012 08:01 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
It has been suggested by researchers that there are significant air emissions (primarily methane) associated with fracking wells. As a result and in response to a court deadline, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized standards to reduce harmful air pollution associated with oil and natural gas production. The updated standards, required by the Clean Air Act, included feedback from a range of stakeholders including the public, public health groups, states and industry. As a result, the final standards reduce implementation costs while also ensuring they are achievable and can be met by relying on proven, cost-effective technologies as well as processes already in use at approximately half of the fractured natural gas wells in the United States. These technologies will not only reduce 95 percent of the harmful emissions from these wells that contribute to smog and lead to health impacts, they will also enable companies to collect additional natural gas that can be sold. Natural gas is a key component of the nation’s clean energy future and the standards released today make sure that we can continue to expand production of this important domestic resource while reducing impacts to public health, and most importantly builds on steps already being taken by industry leaders.
A Farm Grows in Brooklyn!
April 19, 2012 06:33 AM - Kara Scharwath, Triple Pundit
Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood will soon be home to a 100,000 square foot, multi-acre rooftop farm that will produce a million pounds of produce per year — enough to feed 5,000 people — without using any dirt. The farm will be built by BrightFarms, a new company with a unique business model that finances, builds, and operates hydroponic greenhouse farms for supermarkets and other retailers who purchase the produce. The Brooklyn farm will be located on top of an eight-story, 1.1 million square foot building that was built in 1916 as a Navy warehouse and is now part of the city’s plans to redevelop the Brooklyn industrial waterfront. Construction is slated to start in the fall with the first harvest of tomatoes, lettuces and herbs expected next spring. Company officials say that once the farm is built, it will be the largest of its kind in the world.
Climate change making conservation more costly
April 18, 2012 06:46 AM - Editor, ARKive.org
Climate change will make conserving the world’s biodiversity — including the human benefits associated with conservation, such as clean air and water — much more challenging and expensive, research reveals. According to a group of international researchers convened by Conservation International, climate change may in some cases drive up costs by more than 100%. Focussing on species and ecosystems in South Africa, Madagascar and California, the researchers present the first ever estimates of how much it will cost the global community to adapt conservation efforts to climate change, calling the studies a 'wake-up call'. The results of the research have been published as a series of three papers in the journal Conservation Biology, under the title 'Conservation Focus: Costs of Adapting Conservation to Climate Change'.
Tighter controls rejected on Pacific tuna fishing
April 17, 2012 12:43 PM - Bernadette Carreon
Pacific island nations and conservation groups have failed to persuade the body that oversees tuna fishing in the Pacific to introduce more stringent measures to protect tuna supply. Negotiations broke down at a meeting in Guam last month (March 26-30) of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), as Pacific island nations — backed by Australia — failed to reach agreement with the United States, European Union, China and Japan on ways to conserve big-eye tuna and protect other species.
Another Buffett Rule: No Shortcuts on the Environment
April 17, 2012 08:51 AM - Bill DiBenedetto, Triple Pundit
While the Senate attempts to deal with the so called Buffett Rule, which would force rich folks to pay taxes at least at the same rate as their secretaries, the rule's namesake, the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, has also spoken out on the environment in financial terms.
Greenland's ice cover appears to be sliding into the ocean
April 17, 2012 07:10 AM - Editor, ClickGreen
Like snow sliding off a roof on a sunny day, the Greenland Ice Sheet may be sliding faster into the ocean due to massive releases of meltwater from surface lakes, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder-based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Such lake drainages may affect sea-level rise, with implications for coastal communities, according to the researchers. "This is the first evidence that Greenland's 'supraglacial' lakes have responded to recent increases in surface meltwater production by draining more frequently, as opposed to growing in size," says CIRES research associate William Colgan, who co-led the new study with CU-Boulder computer science doctoral student Yu-Li Liang.
TSCA: E Filing as Opposed to Paper
April 16, 2012 08:19 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a proposed rule to require electronic reporting for certain information submitted to the agency under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). TSCA is a rule that requires chemicals to be registered and on new chemicals and some old ones there is mandatory reporting of hazards and toxicological tests. The action is an important milestone in the agency’s effort to increase transparency and public access to chemical information. Electronic reporting will increase the speed with which EPA can make information publicly available, increase accuracy, and provide the public with quick and easier access to chemical information.
Tar Sands Update
April 16, 2012 06:52 AM - RP Siegel , Triple Pundit
You might not know this, but Canada has oil reserves of 170 billion barrels, more than Iran and Nigeria combined. This fact is not widely known since much of that oil has been considered "not economically recoverable," lying deep underground in a mixture of bitumen, a thick, tarry substance, sand and water known as oil sands or tar sands. Development of these tar sands, located near the Athabasca River, by Suncor Energy, began in the 1960s but has been conducted at a relatively small scale because of the costs involved. Only recently, with declining supplies and increasing prices have attempts begun to try and ramp up production, especially after PetroChina acquired a 60 percent interest in two major wells in Alberta in 2009. This was followed in 2010 by Sinopec paying $4.65 billion for a 9 percent stake in Syncrude Canada Ltd. Chinese investors find this resource to be attractive, since Canada is considered to be a low political risk when compared with, say, the Middle East. As of 2010, the three biggest of many players were Syncrude Canada, Suncor, and Albian Sands, a joint venture of Chevron, Shell Canada and Marathon Oil. BP also has a substantial stake, with a 75 percent interest in Terre de Grace, which it also operates.
Pesticides in backyards implicated in Bee Colony die off
April 14, 2012 10:02 AM - Brandon Keim, Wired
The controversy over possible links between massive bee die-offs and agricultural pesticides has overshadowed another threat: the use of those same pesticides in backyards and gardens. Neonicotinoid pesticides are ubiquitous in everday consumer plant treatments, and may expose bees to far higher doses than those found on farms, where neonicotinoids used in seed coatings are already considered a major problem by many scientists. "It's amazing how much research is out there on seed treatments, and in a way thats' distracted everyone from what may be a bigger problem," said Mace Vaughan, pollinator program director at the Xerces society, an invertebrate conservation group.
Forests and the Health of the Planet
April 13, 2012 08:24 AM - Richard Matthews, Global Warming is Real
The health of our forests directly impacts the health of the planet. The importance of forests to the Earth’s ecosystems cannot be overstated. Research shows that forest die-offs are on the increase and this troubling trend is being linked to global warming. Heat and water stress associated with climate change are making forests vulnerable to insect attacks, fires and other problems. As reported in an October 2011 New York Times article, millions of acres of forests in the northern and central Rockies are dying. In Colorado, at least 15 percent of that state’s aspen forests are suffering due to a lack of water. The U.S. is not the only country where forests are succumbing to the effects of a warming climate, trees are also being impacted by climate change all around the globe. The evidence for global warming continues to mount with March 2012 being the warmest in recorded history in the U.S. and January to March 2012 being the warmest first quarter on record in the lower 48 states. This is but the most recent data corroborating an increasingly irrefutable body of evidence.